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The Less-Is-More Makeup : Toss the eyeliner. Dump the mascara and shadow. But stock up on Vaseline and lipstick.

May 21, 1993|MARY ROURKE | TIMES FASHION EDITOR

Rub red lipstick across your nose and cheeks with your fingers. Now do the same for your lips. (It should look as if you stayed too long at the beach.)

Dot some Vaseline on your eyelids. (If it smears, don't worry. Shiny lids are part of this look.)

Let your freckles show through your makeup base--a sheer concoction of moisturizer mixed with a dab of foundation. (Individuality is encouraged here.)

Leave off the eye shadow, liner, concealer and mascara. (Your eyes haven't disappeared--it just feels that way.)

And walk tall. You're wearing the new look from Calvin Klein.

The scrubbed face, barely touched by the instruments of artifice, is having its day. Top makeup artists from New York, London and Paris are cutting back on the cosmetics--or making it look that way.

A "finished" face can consist of no more than a little Vaseline and some lipstick worn in unlikely places--if the face is near perfect to begin with. Otherwise--and that means most of the time--the effect gets painted on, but lightly.

Its creators coo over "innocent" eyes and lips just slightly stained to look as if you'd been sucking cherry candy. But there is more to it than that.

For once, a bold new take on beauty seems custom-made for women over 40.

"It's the beginning of an awakening," says Klein. "It's about women in their 40s and 50s who've gotten better with age." He used Lauren Hutton, 48, and Lisa Taylor, 41, in his latest show, along with several other older models. They looked as striking as women half their age.

"What's going on now," says Klein, "is a feeling that you didn't make a huge effort to look polished and perfect. And it's really OK to have lines in your face. Reality can be fabulous. Hair and makeup should be part of that."

"You can see expression better on older women's faces if they wear less makeup," says Dick Page, the London-based makeup artist who created the look for Klein's show. "They have character and personality, and it shows."

Page's system is as basic as it gets. He starts with Neutroderm, a moisturizer from the drugstore that gives a face a sheen he calls wholesome. If the skin is clear, he doesn't use foundation or powder. If the complexion needs it, he blends three shades of foundation--C2, C5 and C7 by Mac Studio Line--until the mixture matches any skin tone from white to medium brown. He uses it so sparingly that moles, freckles and even blemishes show through.

His first choice in lipstick is Aubergine by Il Makiage, (available at Il Makiage boutiques in San Francisco and New York). But often he uses "drugstore reds," or other shades with a mauve-pink cast, on lips as well as cheeks. He dabs it on with fingertips, across lips, cheeks and nose. Sometimes he uses Vaseline that way, too.

Anything more is "cosmetic tyranny."

Kevyn Aucoin, based in New York, did the makeup for the fall '93 shows of Ralph Lauren, Isaac Mizrahi, Donna Karan and Todd Oldham. He has a more polished approach than Page.

To give a robust glow to models in Lauren's show--which was inspired by turn-of-the-century Russia--Aucoin put a tiny amount of foundation and loose powder in the usual places. Then he did the same to eyelids. He curled eyelashes till they almost rolled right over, as a way of defining the eyes without a lot of makeup. "I threw out the eye shadow," he says. Eyeliner got the heave-ho and he went extra easy on the mascara.

A strong, rose-colored blusher on the apples of cheeks, and a dusting of shiny iridescent powder under the eyes gave a "fresh as a baby" effect, he said. A "pinky lip gloss" finished the outdoorsy look.

But Aucoin isn't saying, wear no makeup. Rather, use it in unusual ways, and repeat this mantra as you apply it: "I am fresh, I am young, I am wholesome." He has used his technique on complexions ranging from those of Tina Turner and Janet Jackson to Liza Minnelli and the late Audrey Hepburn.

Aucoin and most other experimenters of his sort aren't pushing drugstore products exclusively. Aucoin uses "just a little" Shiseido mascara, and he likes Chanel base and translucent powder for their smooth textures, which should match a natural color exactly.

Aucoin often blends two lip colors by Mac: auburn lipstick over cherry lip pencil. And he uses Mac's iridescent powder, a white translucent product that adds shimmer, under the eyes and on the cheeks of a finished face to generate "a healthy flush."

Francois Nars pioneered this fresh-as-a-baby look with his day-at-the-beach face for another Klein show. He calls the effect bare, strong and extreme.

Nars will introduce his own line of makeup exclusively at Barneys New York in September and sees his approach as right for women in their 40s and beyond. "The older you get, the less makeup you need. A few touches of light or sparkle are enough."

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